Escaper said guard was ‘complacent’

File image. © Andrew Bardwell

A 25-year-old prisoner says he made a run for it when the security guard with him was being “complacent”.

Michael Raymond Norton made his comment to police after his December 4 escape while he was having an x-ray done at medical rooms in Yaldhurst Road at 5.50pm.

His handcuffs had been removed when he suddenly ran out of the rooms. “He was chased by prison security staff but outran the staff and escaped,” police told Judge Brian Callaghan at Norton’s Christchurch District Court sentencing yesterday.

Police said: “He said the security guard was being complacent and he saw his chance to run, so he took off.”

Defence counsel Karen Feltham said Norton was now apologetic about the escape. “It was done on the spur of the moment and he regrets it now,” she said, as Norton was sentenced on four charges of burglary, a petrol drive-off theft, receiving a stolen car, and escaping from custody.

Norton says he has managed to avoid Christchurch’s methamphetamine “epidemic”, and has overcome drugs issues. But Miss Feltham told the court he resorted to burglary when he was under pressure and had no means to live.

“His survival instinct is to steal,” she said. “He accepts he has become isolated in the community because of his own behaviour.”

He now had a baby daughter and was desperate to get back into the community, she said. He wanted to be trained for work in the catering industry.

Judge Callaghan said it was unrealistic to order reparations for the $8500 losses and damage caused by Norton’s offending, mostly from Christchurch house break-ins.

He already had reparations unpaid from earlier offending. “I cannot help but note the effect of the burglaries on the victims, particularly those who have lost priceless heirlooms and things which will never be recovered,” said the judge.

He said he hoped that Miss Feltham was correct when she said Norton wanted to change his behaviour but he noted that in June Norton had cut off the ankle bracelet that was monitoring him on electronic bail, and had then committed more burglaries.

He noted that Norton had last been jailed for burglary in 2014.

He imposed jail terms totalling two years nine months, which included an additional six months for the escaping charge.

Norton was jailed for five years in 2008 for manslaughter, for crashing a car during a police chase. One close friend was killed and another passenger seriously injured in the crash in Christchurch’s northern suburbs when he was aged 17.

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